The Benefits of Learning American Sign Language in High School

Sophie Castro, Editor

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5 percent of the world’s population was born without hearing. Though 5 percent may seem like a small number, this translates into nearly 360 million people, more than a million of whom live in the US. 

Offering an American Sign Language (ASL) course as part of our school’s curriculum would be greatly beneficial to our student’s education as well as increase their opportunities for future careers options and prepare them for life outside of high school. 

As students leave high school, those who choose to enter into either the business world or the medical field will meet and communicate with many different people, including some without hearing. Having the ability to communicate with these people on a basic level will help students to form connections and advance in their fields. 

Even if a student isn’t planning on entering either of these professions, the simple act of knowing sign language could prove to be a viable career option. 

According to VerywellHealth journalist Jamie Berke there is a need for people skilled in ASL in many fields including interpreting, health and psychology.  

ASL interpreting is possibly the most popular career option for those with a degree in ASL. ASL interpreting jobs can be found in many environments including: concerts, courtrooms, museums, theaters, government agencies, amusement parks, hospitals, and more. 

Having a knowledge of sign language could also help students if they wanted to enter into the psychology field. More and more colleges are hiring counselors with knowledge of ASL for deaf students. Private and government agencies also often hire ASL psychologists to provide counseling to their deaf employees.

Another career option for those interested in ASL is becoming a speech pathologist or audiologist who can work with deaf people to improve their ability to speak or communicate with those who don’t know how to use sign language. 

By taking an ASL class in high school, students can decide whether they are interested in pursuing a career in ASL. Even if students decide against continuing ASL in college, the basic skills they would acquire in a high school level classroom would help teach students about a culture to which they are now ignorant and help prepare them for the world. 

Deaf culture is a community of people with shared beliefs, art, literacy, and history. Many people who are deaf choose against surgery to regain their hearing because they are proud of their deafness. 

While some students may currently view being deaf as a disability, having a sign language class could teach students more about deaf communities and help them to understand a culture that many deaf people are proud of.